Four ‘failures’ from DMACC succeed at honors conference

This April, DMACC was the only community college represented at the annual Upper Midwest Regional Honors Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

This year’s theme of the conference was “Embracing Failure.” Guest speakers and panels discussed this topic and shared many interpretations of what it means to fail. College honors programs from all across the Midwest could sit in and listen to how others view failure or share stories of plans that did not go as intended.

Honors student Christopher Martin, Honors advisers Whitney Riggs and Matt Sprengeler, and Honors Director Laurie Linhart spoke presented “Four Failures From Des Moines Area Community College that Ultimately Fueled Success.” Martin, Riggs, and Linhart spoke of specific times in their lives where they have failed in the past and how those failures have helped them grow.

Whitney Riggs spoke of the time she finished graduate school, went to her job, and realized that she was not in the career she wanted to be doing. Dr. Linhart spoke of a time where she almost did not pass a test in order to get her degree.

Martin gave his presentation about his first college class at DMACC. Martin explained his realization that classes in college are more challenging than high school after he got this first two exam scores back. Martin saw his grades and realized that he had to adjust his study habits accordingly.

Martin learned from his failure that, “When you are faced with something new, difficult, different, and challenging- which is what living on a college campus is or taking classes on a college campus, and having your first ever college class — you have to prepare for it and buckle down and embrace it rather than shy away from it.”

Sprengeler, however, had a different approach to his presentation. He listed all of his different failures in life and said sometimes there is nothing to be done about failure.

“Sometimes you fail, and that’s it, you fail. There is not a lesson, there is not a moral. So you have to learn what to do when you actually fail. Which is some-thing a lot of people, especially Honors student, struggle with.”

Sprengeler also spoke of how in school, failure is not something that is talked about enough. He said that failure is often viewed in a negative light and that people who fail are of-ten seen as terrible students, but that is not the case.

“The grade that you get isn’t the person that you are. It’s important to remember that when you are thinking about failure. Obviously we would like you to get good grades because they do help us measure what you know, but they are not a complete measure of what you know,” Sprengeler said.

Sprengeler wants students to know that: “It’s okay to accept you won’t always do your best. It’s okay to accept that sometimes stuff doesn’t go the way you want. You have to dust yourself off, and give it another try. Or sometimes, you dust yourself off, throw it away, and go in a completely other direction,” Sprengeler said.

Failure is usually a subject most college students actively avoid coming into con-tact with, but DMACC’s ‘Four Failures’ implore students to reconsider. There is such a large stigma and fear surrounding failure, but failing is a part of the process of any task in life.

As Martin said, “Everyone is going to fail, so you just have to expect it. And failure is going to absolutely suck when it happens and it’s going to be horrible. Whether it’s getting a bad grade in school, getting let go from a job, getting a divorce, having a failed relationship, whatever it is everyone is going to fail in life.

“So when that happens, Matt says you gotta get up the next day, gotta put on some clothes, gotta take a shower, gotta eat. So the important thing is even if there is not that shining light at the end of the day, you still have to continue on with life and fight through the failure because that is the only way to eventually succeed.”

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